The Root Vegetable Andrew Zimmern Thinks Should Be More Popular In The US

Andrew Zimmern may not be the first celebrity chef you would turn to if you were interested in trying a new dish and looking for recommendations. After all, the Bizarre Foods host has sampled some highly unsavory stuff, from dung beetles to cow placenta (via The Daily Meal). That said, Zimmern appears to be on to something truly good in his recent Instagram post touting oca.

Like coconut tree grubs, another Zimmern delicacy, oca are native to South America. But unlike the grubs, which can taste like bags of pus (via Travel Channel), oca is both nutritious and delicious.

What is oca, anyway? For one thing, it's hard to find in the U.S. You would need to hunt down a farmer that specializes in produce from South America (via Parade). In fact, that's just what Zimmern did. He ordered some oca from Girl & Dug Farm, a California grower that sells everything from Peruvian vegetables to Scandinavian berries (via Instagram). Then Zimmern featured these highly photogenic little tubers in an Instagram video.

The first comparison that comes to mind with oca is the potato, although oca can be eaten raw, and they have a sweet yet tangy flavor when cooked. Girl & Dug on Instagram describes oca as tasting like a baked potato with the sour cream and a sprinkle of MSG already added.

Oca are like potatoes with a lemony finish

In his Instagram post promoting the virtues of oca, Andrew Zimmern shows the colorful tubers – from light yellow to maroon – frying in safflower oil in a hot pan. After frying, Zimmern said to put the oca in a 450-degree oven to finish. "Think sunchoke with a lemony finish," Zimmern wrote in his Instagram caption. (Come on, Zimmern. This description isn't all that helpful to people who have never heard of sunchokes. So here's a quick primer: Often called Jerusalem artichokes, sunchokes are described by Serious Eats as a ginger-looking thing that grows off the roots of a certain sunflower. For what it's worth, sunchokes' flavor reminded Serious Eats of raw hazelnuts.)

Back to Zimmern's Instagram caption: He goes on to describe oca as "very light and stunningly perfect for marriage with any roast or meal in a bowl. Very popular in New Zealand, deserves more use here in USA."

Given that oca is dense with nutrients such as vitamins B and C, minerals, and fiber (via Heal with Food), it would be good if Zimmern's latest revelation found a spot next to the potatoes and yams on American produce shelves. They sure would make a great addition to your dung beetle stew.